Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30
Ren’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 is a decent facial moisturizer with sunscreen that would’ve rated better without the multiple types of skin-irritating fragrance it contains.
However Ren defines “clean beauty”, the brand seems to have overlooked the research showing mandarin orange, ho wood leaf, and geranium oils are a problem for skin. Each contains fragrance chemicals (like limonene and linalool) that interact with air and produce oxidative by-products that, you guessed it, damage skin.
Housed in an opaque squeeze tube, we love the pure mineral (zinc oxide) broad-spectrum protection this provides. We also love that this sunscreen feels light, its lasting matte finish doesn’t make skin look flat or dull, and contains proven antioxidants like passion fruit extract and cranberry oil. Without the fragrance (see More Info for details) this would be great for combination to oily skin.
Although easy to apply (you don’t have to rub and rub to get this to look good), if your skin tone is darker than medium you’ll likely be see a white to gray cast once this sets. Those with fair skin fare better, but regardless of skin color, nobody needs to accept the irritation fragrant oils cause to get reliable UV protection. See our list of best moisturizers with sunscreen for the latest top picks.
- Provides pure mineral broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Contains proven antioxidants.
- Opaque tube packaging keeps the antioxidants stable during use.
- Feels light without making skin look dull.
- Leaves a discernible white cast on medium to dark skin tones.
- Fragrant formula poses a risk of irritating skin, plus the fragrance lingers.
- Contains fragrant oils known to sensitize skin and trigger oxidative damage.
Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.
This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin’s barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.
A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.
References for this information:
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
Our silicone-free Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 goes beyond ordinary sun protection to reduce shine and mattify on contact while protecting you against the aging effects of sun damage. Heavy, pore-clogging sunblock is a thing of the past. Designed especially for oily or sensitive skin, this lightweight clean sunscreen stops shine and locks down makeup with a natural matte finish. Powered by 22% non-nano zinc oxide.
Strengths: Good toner; some worthwhile moisturizers and masks (but not the anti-acne formula); a bounty of products for dry to very dry skin; some products contain especially high amounts of known antioxidants.
Weaknesses: Expensive; repetitive formulas that aren't nearly as natural as they're made out to be; several products contain irritants with no established benefit for skin; very irritating products for those with acne;no skin-lightening options; unappealing products for oily skin.
Hailing from the United Kingdom, the Ren line was developed by two businessmen who are, according to company information, "evangelical" about skin care. The story goes that Robert Calcraft and Anthony Buck were former consultants who began researching the skin-care market after Buck's wife began having adverse reactions to every skin-care product she used while pregnant. Apparently neither man believed that there was a line out there that offered consumers high-tech products that were "totally clean" and "completely effective," and so, voil, a new skin-care line was born.
We wish we could write that these men were really onto something for all women, not just Buck's wife, but that's simply not the case. First of all, their assessment of the cosmetics industry is bizarre, because in truth there are indeed many cosmetic lines offering "clean" and "effective" products ("clean," by Ren's definition, are products that don't contain problematic ingredients). Second, which lines did Ren's founders check out to determine that there was a missing link? An even better question is: What criteria were they using, because almost all of their products are either poorly formulated or contain irritating ingredients?
Calcraft and Buck apparently worked with a cosmetic pharmacologist; although that sounds impressive, a cosmetic pharmacologist works with drugs designed to improve mental ability in healthy individuals, not with skin-care formulations. All of this back story is nothing more than proof that the people behind this line really didn't do their homework, and the consumer who buys these products will be the poorer (both skin health- and money-wise) because of it.
It still shocks us when we review a line that's laden with products claiming to improve wrinkles and other signs of aging skin, and yet there's limited options for sun protection. Few researchers question how critical daily sun protection is to preserving the health and appearance of skin. Many of Ren's products contain antioxidants, and several have high amounts of green tea oil. But all the green tea in Japan isn't capable of protecting skin from environmental damage, which of course includes sunlight.
More so than many other lines that eschew certain ingredients for their alleged (and, sometimes, proven) negative effects when present in skin-care products, Ren loves to point out everything they don't use. This is a line for those who love to see the word "No" followed by a long list of chemical-sounding names that can seem scary to the uninformed. A consumer may have no idea what a polyquaternium is, but because of lines like Ren, the message is clear that it's not desirable. Ren doesn't provide any documentation supporting their ban on certain ingredients, which is typical of lines whose marketing angle relies on perpetuating the myth that synthetic ingredients are evil and that natural is the only truly safe way to go.
It would be great if Ren's "do not use" list benefited consumers, but it doesn't. Frustratingly, many of the ingredients Ren opts to use instead of synthetics are proven irritants for skin. Bergamot, peppermint, tangerine, and arnica are indeed natural ingredients, but each has its share of problems for skin. We could go on, but you get ourpoint: Ren is really nothing more than an overly fragranced, fear-mongering, natural "me too" line using the same tired plant-based ingredient angle as countless other brands. The difference is that many of those other brands have a product assortment that, either from a price or formulary perspective, is much better than this one.
For more information about Ren, now owned by Unilever, call (732) 553-1185 or visit www.renskincare.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.